Pictures of Gentrification (30 minutes)
Working in small groups or as a whole class, students will use the Library of Congress primary source analysis tool to look at before and after photos of New York and Washington, D.C. Additionally, if you can find before and after pictures of a gentrified area in your city, use those too. At this stage, avoid sharing specific vocabulary about gentrification with students to allow for their observations.
If working in small groups, print the photos for students to analyze in their small groups. Small groups should notate differences or any other observations on the printed photos. If working as a whole class, project photos onto a smartboard or screen. Write student observations onto the projected image, white board, or a piece of flip chart paper.
After students have analyzed the photos once, go through an analysis process again, using the See, Think, Wonder visible thinking routine. Students should do this as an individual exercise. Students should write down what they see think or wonder. If possible, consider using a Jamboard, Padlet, or Post-Its for students to share their individual responses. If students record their thoughts on notebook paper, have them share in pairs before the large group discussion.
Once students have documented their observations and had the opportunity to look over others, have them share their observations in a large group discussion. Record any large themes that are becoming clear or ideas that continue to surface.
Standing up for your community (25 minutes)
Students will use the Values, Identities, Actions Thinking Routine to understand how people can use their voices to stand up for their community.
Students will watch this five and a half minute video about Alondra Bobadilla, Boston’s first Youth Poet Laureate. She discusses becoming Boston’s Youth Poet Laureate and using her poetry to stand up for her people and neighborhood.
After students watch the video, use the Values, Identities and Actions Thinking Routine to analyze it.
- What values does this work invite us to think about? Are they your values? Other’s values? Whose values does the work affirm or challenge? Does the work provoke questions or challenges to these values?
- Who is the work speaking about? Who is the audience for this work? Is anyone left out of the story that should be in it? Do you fit in this story, or do you not fit in this story? Why?
- What actions might this work encourage? [Actions could include doing something concrete, refraining from doing something, learning more, etc.] Who takes the action? You or other people? If others, who are the others? Why?
In small groups, students share their thoughts and continue their conversations. Ask “What creates the culture or identity of a community?”
Closing (5 minutes)
Exit Ticket - Students create a journal entry or exit ticket that answers the question
- What creates the culture or identity of your community?
- What would be lost if your community was completely changed?
This part of the lesson is taken from KQED’s The Lowdown lesson plan on gentrification.
Gentrification Is... (60 minutes)
Individually or in small groups, students read The Lowdown blog post.
While reading, students should create a T-chart of the pros and cons of gentrification. Students should also pay attention to what happens to residents in established communities when newcomers move in. They should consider the following as they make their T-charts:
- How does gentrification happen?
- How do financial incentives influence what happens in a community?
- What do you think is the most positive aspect of gentrification? What is the most negative?
- What happens to established residents in communities that are gentrified?
- What role does race and class or social status play in gentrification?
- Is gentrification primarily a positive or negative force?
- What is one thing you would change, if anything, about gentrification to make it a more a positive force in communities?
Next, as a class watch this video
Middle School: PBS seven minute 11 second video on gentrification
High School: Urban Displacement Project seven and a half minute video on gentrification
After watching the video, lead a discussion with the class using these questions:
- What did you see?
- Consider the pictures we examined on the first day. What connections do you see between the ideas in this video and our observations from those pictures?
- Can gentrification be used to preserve what is good about a community?
- Did you have any questions or wonderings that were answered by this video?
- Are there any new questions or wonderings?
- How would you define gentrification in your own words?
- If your community changed dramatically through gentrification or resident led improvements, what would be important to save or ensure was preserved?
If students live in an under-resourced or gentrifying area
Students should take or find photos of a street or area in their neighborhood and bring them for the next class. They should consider what areas or buildings should change and what buildings or areas should be preserved or restored.
If students DO NOT live in an under-resourced or gentrifying area
Research a gentrifying or under resourced area in your city or state. Find pictures and information about that area to help identify what the culture of the region is like. Who lives there and what are some of the challenges they face? How would you interact with the current community to support rather than replace it? Identify at least one site to be preserved and one to be replaced. (Please note that a site can be a building, landmark, or area)
Create a Neighborhood Improvement or Preservation Plan (30 minutes)
In pairs or groups, students should use the photographs they took or found of their current neighborhood and pictures of new buildings to create their ideal neighborhood map. This can be done digitally or as an analog project.
NOTE: Teachers should provide magazines for students to use if they aren’t able to take photographs. Photographs/images of buildings in magazines can be used to represent buildings that are to be replaced or restored.
Students should create a Neighborhood Improvement or Preservation Plan to improve or protect their neighborhood. They should identify at least three buildings or locations to preserve, restore or replace.
Students should include in their plan:
- Who has historically lived in the area?
- Description of the culture of the area.
- What elements of gentrification are present in this area?
- Identify the places to be preserved, restored, or replaced.
- Why should they be preserved, restored, or replaced?
- How can they reserve, restore, or replace them?
- What would be the impact of reserving, restoring, or replacing those locations?
- What role do current residents play in making those things happen?
Small group sharing (30 minutes)
Students will share their new neighborhood and plan with the class.
Materials and handouts you will need to complete the below activities.